At this point, you probably have spent a few bucks on James Cameron latest opus. I have. Thirty dollars. And I hated it.

The first time I saw Avatar was in 2D in Brockville, ON, opening day. Stripped of 3D quality and digital projection, Avatar is a bore. The patronizing plot about the good savage winning the heart of the kind-hearted invader has been done and better numerous times (Dances with Wolves, The New World.) With the notable exception of Sigourney Weaver' Dr. Augustine, the characters are unoriginal and painfully underdeveloped. The motion-capture animation is impressive, same as the vast array of extraterrestrial life forms, but without something to do, it's just a bit better than a pretty screen saver. Do you want to see properly used CGI characters? Go and watch LOTR: The Two Towers. Gollum has shades the Na'vi can only dream of.

The tree of life? The Fountain used the same idea more successfully a couple of years ago (true, nobody saw that show, but is there, people.)

Cameron, who is responsible for the Avatar script, is a mediocre writer. When Titanic took home eleven Oscars in 1997, the screenplay wasn't even nominated. He had help for Aliens and Terminator and it shows. In fact, Cameron steals from himself and recycles the character roster from Aliens (the hardcore Latina soldier, the duplicitous corporate drone, Ellen Ripley) and wedges it into his Pocahontas redux.

On New Year's Eve, I decided to give Avatar another chance, this time in 3D, in a state-of-the-art screen in Vancouver, BC. It was actually unbearable, the second time around. I fidgeted in my sit during the entire projection. Sure, the colours are pretty and the first half hour the 3D aspect makes the show tolerable, but the novelty wears off very quickly. There are very specific sits in the theatre where Avatar can be fully appreciated (the four sits right in the middle of the room), if you are not in one of those, you are missing out.

There was an emotional weight in Titanic that's entirely missing in Avatar. Did anybody care when (SPOILER ALERT) three of the main characters bit the dust within minutes from each other? It felt like a montage!

Here is hoping I'm not the only one who notices the emperor has no clothes.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

It's the new year and while everyone is making their best of lists, I usually take a quick look to see what movies I've missed. And one that I heard about but have yet to have the opportunity to see is a Belgium film called Panique au village or A Town Called Panic.

It's a stop motion animated film that's based on a cult TV series of the same name. It follows the adventures of Indian, Cowboy and Horse. They are all plastic toys and their adventures are hilarious and bizarre. The TV episodes are only around five minutes long so it was only natural for the studio to turn it into a 75 minute movie. Apparently the film will start being distributed in Canada sometime soon, maybe even this month. I just look forward to anything that doesn't feature CGI rodents.

Pick of the Day: H2OIL

Remember how Canada was on everybody's shitlist at the recent Copenhagen climate change summit? I forget how many fossil-of-the-day awards we picked up, but it was at least five or six. As a country, when it comes to per-capita energy consumption, we probably face some challenges that not a lot of other countries do. To begin with, we have a relatively sparse population spread out over a relatively vast area. If you toss in all our northern territory, we're pretty much the same size as China, if not a little bigger. But whereas China has 1.4 billion people, we only have 1/40th of that or 34 million people.

As well, we have one of the most challenging climates imaginable. Not too many other places in the world do you find the temperature extremes (plus 40 degrees C in the summer, minus 40 degrees C in the winter) that are par for the course in large chunks of Canada.
Having said that, there's still tons of stuff that we as individuals, and communities, can do to lessen our energy consumption and lower our carbon footprint. We rag about them all the time in prairie dog. Better public transit and cycling options, sustainable housing and urban planning, eating locally grown and produced foods, recycling, stuff like that.

But as Peter Prebble observed in an article I wrote for our December 3 feature HOW THE CLIMATE LIARS F&@KED THE FUTURE even with the best of intentions, we're not going to solve the climate crisis on our own. Most of our greenhouse gas emissions are tied to our dependence as a society on carbon-based energy. And as bad as coal, oil and natural gas are, they pale in comparison with the environmental devastation that is being wrought through the development of the Alberta tar sands. That was the true target of all the animosity being expressed against Canada by environmentalists in Copenhagen.
Check out the documentary H2Oil which screens tonight at the RPL Theatre at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 9 p.m. and you'll see why everyone's so upset. Here's the trailer. (YouTube)